Things To Do In Kyoto Japan

Things To Do In Kyoto Japan (List)

Kyoto, the former capital of Japan, is a city rich in history and culture. With its countless temples, shrines, and historic structures, Kyoto offers a unique experience for visitors. From exploring ancient temples to strolling through serene gardens, there are plenty of things to do in Kyoto to make your visit memorable. Whether you’re interested in delving into the city’s rich history or immersing yourself in its vibrant streets, Kyoto has something to offer everyone.

Key Takeaways:

  • Kyoto is a city rich in history and culture.
  • There are countless temples, shrines, and historic structures to explore.
  • Visitors can experience the city’s rich history and vibrant streets.
  • There are plenty of things to do in Kyoto to make your visit memorable.
  • Kyoto offers something for everyone, whether you’re interested in history or street life.

Top Attractions in Kyoto

Kyoto is renowned for its top attractions that highlight the city’s rich cultural heritage. With a plethora of iconic landmarks, picturesque natural landscapes, and vibrant cultural experiences, Kyoto offers a diverse range of activities for travelers to enjoy. Whether you’re interested in exploring ancient temples, immersing yourself in traditional Japanese culture, or indulging in mouthwatering local cuisine, Kyoto has something for everyone.

Here are some of the top things to do in Kyoto that should be on every traveler’s itinerary:

Fushimi Inari Shrine

One of the most iconic landmarks in Kyoto, the Fushimi Inari Shrine is famous for its thousands of vibrant red torii gates that create a mesmerizing pathway through the forested hillside. Visitors can hike through the gates to reach the summit of Mount Inari and enjoy breathtaking views of the city.

Kiyomizu-dera Temple

This UNESCO World Heritage site is renowned for its wooden terrace that offers panoramic views of Kyoto. Kiyomizu-dera Temple is also known for its cherry blossoms in the spring and colorful autumn foliage.

Arashiyama Bamboo Forest

Step into a tranquil oasis in the heart of Kyoto at the Arashiyama Bamboo Forest. The towering bamboo shoots create a serene atmosphere, perfect for a peaceful stroll or capturing stunning photographs.

Golden Pavilion (Kinkaku-ji Temple)

Admire the shimmering golden exterior of the Kinkaku-ji Temple, also known as the Golden Pavilion. Surrounded by beautiful gardens and a peaceful pond, this temple is a true architectural masterpiece.

Gion District

Experience the enchanting world of geisha culture in the historic Gion District. Take a leisurely walk through the traditional streets, spot geishas in their elegant attire, and explore charming teahouses and boutiques.

Nishiki Market

Indulge in a sensory adventure at Nishiki Market, known as “Kyoto’s Kitchen.” This bustling market is lined with countless food stalls and shops, offering a wide variety of fresh produce, local delicacies, and traditional Japanese ingredients.

These are just a few highlights of the top attractions in Kyoto. Whether you’re interested in history, nature, or cultural experiences, Kyoto offers a wealth of opportunities to explore and immerse yourself in its rich heritage.

Quieter Temples to Visit in Kyoto

While Kyoto is famous for its well-known temples and shrines, there are hidden gems that offer a more tranquil and intimate experience. These quiet temples are tucked away in residential neighborhoods or off the beaten path, providing a peaceful escape from the bustling crowds. Visiting these lesser-known temples is a wonderful opportunity to immerse yourself in the serene beauty of Kyoto. Here are three hidden gems worth exploring:

Gio-ji Temple

Gio-ji Temple is a hidden sanctuary nestled in the enchanting Arashiyama district. Its secluded location and lush moss garden create a serene atmosphere, perfect for quiet contemplation. The main hall, adorned with statues of the Buddha, exudes a sense of tranquility. Surround yourself with the mesmerizing greenery and find solace in this peaceful temple.

Honen-in Temple

Discover a haven of peace at Honen-in Temple, located in the Higashiyama district. This temple is known for its simplicity and spiritual ambiance. The moss-covered cemetery, stone Buddha statues, and beautifully preserved wooden buildings add to its serene charm. Take a leisurely stroll through the temple grounds and experience the peacefulness that Honen-in Temple offers.

Kennin-ji Temple

Journey to Kennin-ji Temple, one of Kyoto’s oldest Zen temples. Tucked away in the Gion district, this temple offers a serene retreat from the bustling streets. Admire the temple’s stunning artwork, including traditional sliding doors painted by famous artists. Spend a moment in quiet reflection in the peaceful Zen garden, where the sound of flowing water adds to the sense of tranquility.

Visiting these quieter temples in Kyoto allows you to escape the crowds and experience a deeper connection with the city’s spiritual side. Take the time to explore these hidden gems and revel in the serenity and beauty they offer.

Temples Location Highlights
Gio-ji Temple Arashiyama district Secluded location, mesmerizing moss garden
Honen-in Temple Higashiyama district Simple yet spiritual ambiance, serene temple grounds
Kennin-ji Temple Gion district Oldest Zen temple, stunning artwork, peaceful Zen garden

Foodie Things to Do in Kyoto

Kyoto is a paradise for food lovers, with its rich culinary heritage and vibrant food scene. Whether you’re a fan of traditional dishes or local street food, Kyoto offers a wide array of gastronomic experiences to indulge in. From savory delights to sweet treats, here are some must-try food experiences that will give you a taste of the city’s unique flavors and culinary traditions.

1. Savor traditional Kyoto cuisine

One of the highlights of visiting Kyoto is experiencing “Kyo-kaiseki,” the traditional multi-course meal that showcases the essence of Kyoto’s culinary artistry. Prepared using seasonal ingredients and culinary techniques passed down through generations, these meticulously crafted meals are a feast for the senses. Each course is thoughtfully arranged to create a harmonious balance of flavors, colors, and textures. Indulge in exquisite dishes such as sashimi, simmered vegetables, grilled fish, and delicate desserts.

2. Explore the bustling Nishiki Market

When it comes to exploring the local food scene, Nishiki Market is a must-visit destination. Known as “Kyoto’s Kitchen,” this vibrant market is filled with stalls selling fresh produce, seafood, snacks, and other culinary delights. Take a leisurely stroll through the market, marvel at the colorful displays, and sample a variety of local specialties. From pickled vegetables to fresh sushi, you’ll find an endless array of flavors to tantalize your taste buds.

3. Try local street food

For a more casual dining experience, venture into the streets of Kyoto and discover the city’s street food scene. In the bustling Pontocho Alley, you’ll find stalls serving grilled skewers of meat and vegetables, known as “yakitori.” Don’t miss the chance to try delicious staples like takoyaki (octopus balls), okonomiyaki (savory pancakes), and taiyaki (fish-shaped pastries filled with sweet fillings). These flavorful street foods offer a quick and satisfying way to fuel your exploration of Kyoto.

Must-Try Kyoto Dishes Description
Matcha (Green Tea) Sweets Indulge in Kyoto’s famous matcha-flavored sweets, such as matcha ice cream, matcha mochi, and matcha parfait.
Tofu Dishes Discover the delicate flavors of Kyoto-style Tofu Dishes, made from locally sourced soybeans and prepared with precision.
Kyoto-Style Ramen Taste the distinct flavors of Kyoto-style ramen, known for its light and delicate broth, topped with tender slices of pork, bamboo shoots, and green onions.

Exploring Kyoto’s food scene is not just about satisfying your hunger but also about immersing yourself in the city’s cultural heritage. Each dish tells a story, reflecting the traditions and flavors that have shaped Kyoto’s culinary identity. So, make sure to feast on the delicious offerings and embark on a culinary adventure that will leave you craving for more.

Kyoto Activities in Nature

While Kyoto is renowned for its historic temples and cultural attractions, the city also offers a plethora of outdoor activities for nature enthusiasts. Immerse yourself in the natural beauty of Kyoto with these exciting outdoor experiences.

Hiking through the beautiful Arashiyama Bamboo Forest: Explore the enchanting bamboo groves of the Arashiyama district. The towering bamboo stalks create a serene and mystical atmosphere, making it a perfect spot for a peaceful nature walk. Don’t forget to bring your camera to capture the breathtaking scenery.

Exploring the Kyoto Botanical Garden: Discover the diverse plant life and tranquil settings of the Kyoto Botanical Garden. Stroll through its scenic pathways, marvel at the blooming flowers, and relax in the serene surroundings. It’s a must-visit destination for nature lovers and a great place to unwind.

Enjoying scenic walks along the Philosopher’s Path: Take a leisurely stroll along the Philosopher’s Path, a picturesque canal-side trail lined with hundreds of cherry trees. In springtime, the cherry blossoms create an awe-inspiring spectacle, immersing you in nature’s breathtaking beauty.

Exploring the tranquil gardens of the Golden Pavilion: Discover the serene gardens surrounding the iconic Golden Pavilion, also known as Kinkaku-ji Temple. The perfectly manicured gardens provide an ideal escape from the bustling city, allowing you to enjoy the harmonious blend of nature and architecture.

These nature activities in Kyoto provide a peaceful and rejuvenating escape from the city. Immerse yourself in the tranquility and beauty of Kyoto’s natural landscapes, and create unforgettable memories amidst its breathtaking scenery.

Flora and Fauna in the Kyoto Botanical Garden

Flowers Trees Wildlife
Roses Cherry Blossoms Japanese Macaque
Lilies Maple Deer
Tulips Pine Herons

Cultural Things to Do in Kyoto

Embracing the rich cultural heritage of Kyoto is an essential part of any visit to the city. Immerse yourself in traditional activities and experiences that will transport you back in time and deepen your appreciation for Kyoto’s history and traditions.

Traditional Tea Ceremony

Experience the elegance and tranquility of a traditional Japanese tea ceremony. Participate in this ancient ritual as you learn about the art of tea preparation and the cultural significance behind each movement. Sip on matcha, a powdered green tea, while enjoying the serene atmosphere of a tea house steeped in tradition.

Pottery and Calligraphy Workshops

Unleash your creativity and learn traditional arts and crafts like pottery and calligraphy. Join a workshop led by skilled artisans who will guide you through the process of creating your own unique pieces. Take home a handcrafted pottery item or a beautifully written calligraphy piece as a meaningful and lasting souvenir of your time in Kyoto.

Japanese Performing Arts

Witness the beauty and grace of traditional Japanese performing arts like kabuki and Noh theater. Experience captivating theatrical performances that have been passed down through generations, showcasing intricate costumes, mesmerizing music, and compelling storytelling. Immerse yourself in the world of Japanese culture and artistry.

Traditional Arts and Crafts


| Traditional Activities | Description |
| Traditional Tea Ceremony | Experience the elegance and tranquility of a traditional Japanese tea ceremony. |
| Pottery and Calligraphy Workshops | Unleash your creativity and learn traditional arts and crafts like pottery and calligraphy. |
| Japanese Performing Arts | Witness the beauty and grace of traditional Japanese performing arts like kabuki and Noh theater. |

Exploring Kyoto’s cultural traditions is a rewarding and immersive experience. Immerse yourself in the city’s vibrant heritage by participating in traditional activities and witnessing captivating performances. These authentic experiences will leave you with a deeper understanding and appreciation for Kyoto’s rich cultural tapestry.


Kyoto, with its rich cultural heritage and diverse attractions, is a must-visit destination for travelers. From exploring iconic temples and shrines to savoring delicious local cuisine, the city offers a wide range of experiences to suit every interest. Whether you’re fascinated by history, captivated by nature, or a food enthusiast, Kyoto has it all.

Immerse yourself in the beauty and charm of this ancient city by visiting its top attractions, such as the Fushimi Inari Shrine, Kiyomizu-dera Temple, and Arashiyama Bamboo Forest. Discover the tranquility of hidden gems like Gio-ji Temple and Honen-in Temple, away from the tourist crowds.

Indulge your taste buds with Kyoto’s culinary delights, from traditional Kyo-kaiseki cuisine to street food at the vibrant Nishiki Market. And don’t forget to explore the city’s natural wonders, like the scenic Philosopher’s Path and the serene gardens surrounding the Golden Pavilion.

So, plan your visit to Kyoto and let yourself be enchanted by its captivating history, breathtaking landscapes, and delightful flavors. This travel guide has showcased the best things to do in Kyoto, ensuring a truly memorable experience in the heart of Japan.


What are some popular attractions in Kyoto?

Some popular attractions in Kyoto include the Fushimi Inari Shrine, Kiyomizu-dera Temple, Arashiyama Bamboo Forest, Golden Pavilion (Kinkaku-ji Temple), Gion district, and Nishiki Market.

Are there any quieter temples to visit in Kyoto?

Yes, Kyoto has several quieter, lesser-known temples that offer a more serene and intimate experience. Some of these hidden gems include Gio-ji Temple, Honen-in Temple, and Kennin-ji Temple.

What food experiences can I enjoy in Kyoto?

In Kyoto, you can savor traditional Kyoto cuisine, explore the bustling Nishiki Market, and try local street food. Don’t miss the chance to enjoy specialties like matcha sweets, tofu dishes, and Kyoto-style ramen.

Are there any activities in nature to do in Kyoto?

Absolutely! Kyoto offers a range of outdoor activities for nature lovers. You can hike through the beautiful Arashiyama Bamboo Forest, explore the Kyoto Botanical Garden, take scenic walks along the Philosopher’s Path, and visit the tranquil gardens of the Golden Pavilion.

What cultural experiences can I have in Kyoto?

Kyoto offers various cultural experiences, such as participating in a traditional tea ceremony, learning traditional arts and crafts like pottery and calligraphy, and witnessing traditional Japanese performing arts like kabuki and Noh theater.

What are the best things to do in Kyoto?

The best things to do in Kyoto include visiting popular attractions, exploring quieter temples, enjoying foodie experiences, engaging in outdoor activities in nature, and immersing yourself in the city’s rich cultural traditions.

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